WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. – James and Donna Eaton died side by side on a mattress thrown from their bed.
“About as close as you can get,” Mt. Juliet Police Department Capt. Tyler Chandler said.
A powerful tornado leveled the couple’s home in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, an area hard hit by Tuesday morning’s deadly storms.
The Eatons were married for 58 years. Jimmy Eaton, as he was known, would have celebrated his 85th birthday on Wednesday.
“The best earthly example of what a marriage should look like,” said the couple’s 24-year-old grandson, Jake Hardy-Moore. “They showed Christ’s love and his sacrifice. They both loved our families through challenging times of life.
“They were the ones we looked to when times were difficult, and they kept us pointed toward God and to be dependent on God.”
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James Eaton often visited hospitals with Pastoral Care & Senior Adult Pastor David Fallin. He helped with a church coffee bar on Sundays.
Donna Eaton, 81, was a retired business manager at First Baptist Church Mt. Juliet and continued to fill in as needed with office responsibilities, Fallin said.
“The Eatons represented the very best of First Baptist,” Pastor Phillip Dunn said. “To know them was to love them. They carried with them a happy spirit, and their love for their church family was a model to all of us.
“To know that they were taken from us so quickly in a storm shocks all of us. We can also rest assured that Jim and Donna loved Christ and woke up with their faith becoming sight.”
Follow reporter Andy Humbles on Twitter: @AndyHumbles.